Five talking points from Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa as more pitch invasion trouble draws anger

BirminghamWorld’s Ben Ramsdale looks at five big taking points from Aston Villa’s final game of 2021/22.

Aston Villa’s final game of the 2021/22 season ended in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Premier League champions, Manchester City.

Ironically, the 90 minutes plus stoppage time that took place at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon couldn’t have summed up Villa’s campaign better if it tried.

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Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring his team second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium

With more than half of the match played, the claret and blue looked to be heading towards an historic victory but the capitulation that followed was simply put, classic Villa.

Here’s five talking points from an afternoon that will forever go down as an infamous one in Manchester.

Steven Gerrard

For as much as the gaffer played down his allegiance to Liverpool in the build-up to this game, his mannerims on the sideline at the Etihad told a different story.

The former Reds captain couldn’t have been any closer to the field of play without actually being on the field of play.

He kicked every ball, made every tackle and if I’m not mistaken, did so from minute one until the final whistle. You could tell he wanted nothing more than to be on that field helping the claret and blue out as a teammate rather than just a boss.

Gerrard is always active in his technical area but this was relentless on Sunday. His gameplan worked down to a tee for 70 minutes. Villa had City rattled and the atmosphere in the stadium was full of frustration.

That five minute spell, however, which is still hard to digest even now, not only cost Villa three points but ultimately cost the manager’s former team the Premier League title.

Calum Chambers

A special mention for Calum Chambers who put in a real assured performance against arguably the toughest opponents in the division.

The man who Gerrard signed from Arsenal in January was forced to come into the side for the final few games due to Ezri Konsa’s knee injury and though it’s only a small sample size - Villa certainly seem more solid with him at the back.

He had a maturity about him that many of his teammates seemed to lack and didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon. Out of all the people you could point the finger at to blame for the capitulation, Chambers isn’t one of them.

Cutting edge

Not for the first time this season, Villa lacked a cutting-edge, with the main offender being Ollie Watkins.

For all the praise the forward gets including a huge nod of confidence from Gerrard in recent weeks, his finishing is still the weakest part of his game - which for a striker, is beyond frustrating.

He provided a lovely assist for Philippe Coutinho’s goal on the day but there’s no denying that he should have had two of his own before that.

A one on one in both halves, both of which he dragged wide of the mark could have put the claret and blue out of sight but it wasn’t to be.

Watkins deserves a massive amount of credit, he works incredibly hard and finds space that others in the team simply can’t but his inability to finish chances has cost Villa not just against City but on multiple occasions this campaign.

Aston Villa's English striker Ollie Watkins (L) shoots the ball that is stoped bu Manchester City's French defender Aymeric Laporte during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium

Boubacar Kamara

Prior to the game, the rumours that Kamara had signed for Villa were already well out in the open with his actual signing being confirmed soon after the conclusion.

When Villa were 2-0 up and Coutinho was brought off for Marvelous Nakamba to try and sure things up - well - we all know what happened next.

Of course that blame doesn’t like solely on Nakamba but had Kamara been the man coming on instead, I think Villa win that game.

He’s a proper holding midfielder, one that can grab a game by the scruff of its neck, dictate play and calm things down when need be.

City cut through Villa’s midfield at will for all three of their goals and whilst most will look to the defence for blame, there was absolutely no support coming from those in front of them.

All in all though, Kamara’s signing cheered Villa fans up after what ended up being a disappointing result. The first of many big names expected through the door at Villa Park this Summer.

The LED board shows a message to prevent fans from invading the pitch during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium

Pitch invasions

What has become an all too common theme recently - City’s pitch invasion following the full-time whistle brought with it negativity from what should have been an air of positivty for the home faithful.

Villa’s goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted as he made his way off of the field, not once but multiple times from different members of the City fanbase.

Fair play to those working at the Etihad however as they worked quickly to release a statement condemning the behaviour and launched a police investigation.

Less than 24 hours later and two fans have been charged over the matter but sadly it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is now the fourth time in a week that this has happened across different clubs.

Luckily, Olsen, as well as all players that have been affected recently got away quite lightly but something needs to change and quickly in regards to these incidents.

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